Chris Boucher calls out media as reason for improved Raptors bench play

TORONTO, ON - JANUARY 10: Nick Nurse, head coach of the Toronto Raptors talks with players (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - JANUARY 10: Nick Nurse, head coach of the Toronto Raptors talks with players (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Raptors were the only team in the NBA to have all five of their starters average above 15 points per game in 2022. Fans pointed to Scottie Barnes and Pascal Siakam playing well in the starting group as cause for celebration, but some were frustrated with Chris Boucher and Malachi Flynn, among others, playing poorly off the bench.

The Raptors were among the league’s worst benches last year, and they currently rank 27th in that category this year with half of the season in the books. Boucher is one of many players who have either flatlined or regressed from last year, putting an even bigger burden on the team’s starters.

Fans should be slightly optimistic about the Raptors’ bench in the last few weeks, as Boucher, Christian Koloko, and Precious Achiuwa have helped stabilize things. Following a win against the Hornets on Tuesday, Boucher outlined his motivation during the last few weeks.

Boucher said that watching the media talk about how the bench has been the main reason Toronto has struggled instilled a new sense of fire in the unit, with the motivation of proving the doubters wrong fueling this team. If they can keep their standout performances up, Toronto can pull themselves out of the lottery.

Chris Boucher is leading an improved Toronto Raptors bench.

One lineup combination that seems to have been very potent in the past few games involves Flynn coming in at point guard, red-hot gunner Gary Trent Jr. staying in the game as the lone starter, and the gigantic Koloko-Achiuwa-Boucher frontcourt creating mismatches.

Boucher has brought the energy and versatility that the Raptors haven’t always seen out of him this season, while Achiuwa scored 13 points in a sign that his 3-point shooting might return relatively shortly. Koloko has proven to be a rock-solid rebounder and shot-blocker lately.

The Raptors will likely go about reinventing the bench in the offseason, as the Thad Young contract is not looking very savory and Otto Porter Jr. is a bigger injury risk than ever following his season-ending injury. The unit they have now must hold down the fort until then.

The Raptors are as top-heavy a roster as there is in the league, and names like Boucher failing to answer the call for large chunks of the season is a huge reason why. The win against Charlotte was a fine start, but sustaining it will be key for Boucher and the rest.

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